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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgiving Repost: Feathers

Originally posted on June 30, 2013. Strikes me as more appropriate now. The Diplofamily will be heading off to Vegas for Thanksgiving--like the Pilgrims we are taking a gamble. The kids are flying in from California and Florida and we will be hitting the buffet line! Posting might be a little light for a couple of days.

Feathers

Yes, feathers. Not the figurative kind that fill leftoid heads, but the real kind that cover birds. We are going light today. Our topic is feathers and how they nearly produced a civil war in the Diplomad clan, and how echoes of that strife apparently will reverberate on the 4th of July.

As the six regular readers of this blog are painfully aware, during the Reagan years I served for a time at the UN in New York. We loved New York City, even with all its inconveniences especially with two rambunctious boys. Schooling was a problem as the local PS was, well, pretty bad. When two of the vastly overpaid teachers at the school told us that they would never send their own kids there, we decided to yank our boys out and send them--at considerable cost to the Diplomad bottom line--to private schools. One went to a school run by Irish Catholic nuns, who wanted no parental involvement, "Thank you very much, but we know how to do this." The older son went to one run by strangely liberal, yet oddly conservative Jews who wanted lots of parental involvement in the school as long as the parents did what the school wanted. Hey, it's New York. Live with it.

Well, as it does every year, the Thanksgiving holiday rolled around. You must understand, we had spent most of our lives overseas. The boys had been born in Spain, and hardly had been in the US. Educated abroad, they--God help me--had grown to love soccer/football with both of them becoming (and remaining to this day) rabid fans of Spain's La Furia Roja. Their grip on Americana was a bit weak. Please, remember that as this saga proceeds.

Another piece of background which you will need. My Spanish wife hates, detests, abhors, loathes, etc, feathers and any creature which sports them. She has a special wrath for chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese. She cannot stand the thought of fowl on the meal plate. I have seen her blanche and break out into a cold sweat at fancy diplo dinners when served quail, duck or some other feather-bearing beast. It is not funny; better said, she has no sense of humor about this matter. My efforts to convince her that chicken tastes just like iguana have had no positive effect. Whenever we go to a restaurant, regardless of what she orders, she insists on, ahem, grilling the waiter on whether any foul fowl was involved in the making of her pending meal, "Uh, no ma'am, our salmon is, uh, salmon. It's a fish, not a bird." "Yes, yes, but the rice and the vegetables, were they cooked with chicken?" I am used to it by now.

Thanksgiving Day in New York, 1986. My older son, then about six was in a bad mood. I asked what was wrong, "You have no school today. Mom is making a nice Thanksgiving meal. What's wrong?" He glared at me, "The Pilgrims did not eat paella! They ate turkey!"

Explanation. Given the Diplowife's aversion to feathery creatures, our overseas Thanksgiving Day meals consisted of seafood paella. My wife had, ahem, implied in some way . . . oh, heck, she flat out told the kids that the Pilgrims ate paella with the Indians. Maybe she was thinking about Cortez and Pizarro, I don't know, but anyhow the kids had gotten into their heads that paella was the meal on Thanksgiving. Now in NY, the older boy had been asked the previous day to make a presentation at school on Thanksgiving. He, of course, reported that the English Pilgrims sat down and shared paella with the Native Americans. This caused a bit of a commotion and, I guess, led to some considerable ridicule, or what the politically correct nanny-staters now would label "bullying."

He was furious with us. He was refusing to eat paella and demanded a turkey. Even my wife was shocked into submission by the uncompromising fury coming from the tyke. It was Thanksgiving Day. I had to find a turkey in Manhattan. I dashed out of our building on the upper east side. All of the supermarkets were closed. A turkey! My kingdom for a turkey! I wandered the cold, darkening desolate concrete canyons, my despair growing, and threatening to overwhelm me. I had let down my kids! The wages of sin, the consequences of falsehoods, God give me a sign that You will allow me to redeem myself . . . wait! A deli! Still open but about to close! I ran in! Turkey sandwiches! They must have a turkey somewhere! A bizarre negotiation followed in which I finally convinced the suspicious Pakistani owner of the "Jewish" deli to sell me a whole kosher turkey at the price per pound of the sliced sandwich meat. I paid him a fortune--in cash--for a small bird about the size of a Chihuahua and ran like the Grinch with my turkey under my arm.

My kids had turkey that day, and every other Thanksgiving since then has featured a big bird on the table. My wife refuses to sit anywhere near it, and has her own separate fish-based meal.

This will be an issue on the Fourth of July. The Thanksgiving paella got moved to Independence Day. The kids, now grown, of course, alas, are starting to make noises of impending rebellion against paella and in favor of hot dogs and other beast meat. The Diplowife mistrusts hotdogs, even the kosher all-beef ones, as stealth chicken missiles. She does not want anything with the potential of bearing fowl touching our BBQ grill or being anywhere near anything else that might be cooking. It appears that we might have a split Fourth meal. One side of the family eating chicken wings and hotdogs, and the other with the paella. Now that I think about it, this seems an appropriate metaphor for what is happening to our country.

WLA

Monday, November 25, 2013

Obama, Kerry & Iran: Having A Kellogg-Briand Moment?

"Obama: "If you like a nuke-free Iran, you can keep a nuke-free Iran."
Time to invest in fall-out shelters. Diplomad tweet, November 24, 2013

The last hundred years have seen a large number of absurd international treaties and agreements that achieved the exact opposite of their stated intent. I am sure readers can come up with more from around the world, but off the top of my head I can think of Versailles, the creation of the League of Nations, the Washington and London naval conferences, Munich, Yalta, and the Paris agreement "ending" the Vietnam war. To that list we can now add the "deal" reached this weekend in Geneva on Iran's nuclear program.

I wrote before about having an Edouard Daladier moment when hearing of Obama's election to the presidency. Readers will recall that Daladier was the French prime minister at the time of the Munich conference and that,
Daladier desperately tried to convince Britain's Neville Chamberlain to take a firmer stance against Hitler. Chamberlain would have none of it, and France's parlous military state prevented Daladier from striking out on his own. Chamberlain had decided to yield to Hitler's demand for the Sudetenland, and to the effective dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Daladier argued against this, but found himself helpless to do anything but go along. To his life-long shame, Daladier became a signer of the September 1938 Munich Agreement, the now universally recognized monument to appeasement. Heading back home from Munich, Daladier assumed angry French patriots would rip him to shreds. He, instead, got a hero's welcome. Enthusiastic crowds sang his praises, prompting him to turn to an aide, and utter the famous, bitter, and prophetic words, "Ah, the fools! Why are they cheering?"
The French, who had formed the bulwark against Kerry's crazy deal--one apparently worked out secretly by the US and Iran and then presented as a fait accompli to our allies--caved in at the end, much as Daladier did when he got the rug pulled out from under him by Chamberlain. Without the backing of the United States, Europe can do essentially nothing about the Iranian threat. 

What, in effect, we have done is acknowledge Iran's nuclear program, give it legitimacy, not cripple it in any significant way, and begin to release billions of dollars in frozen funds, all in exchange for Iranian promises of good behavior over the next six months and a commitment to negotiating a new deal by the end of that period. They keep their thousands of centrifuges, have the right to repair any broken ones, and can enrich up to 5%, and we have no reliable way of knowing if they go beyond that.

As noted in the excellent analysis in The Tower,
The U.S. has long rejected Iran’s claim that it has a “right” to enrich, and last October lead U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman told Congress that “the President has circumscribed what he means by the Iranian people having access… access, not right, but access to peaceful nuclear energy in the context of meeting its obligations.” The interim language, however, describes a future comprehensive solution as involving “a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the program.” Iranian state media carried boasts by among others Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that the U.S. had caved on its long-standing position. The U.S. and Britain both flatly denied Iran’s interpretation of the interim language with Secretary of State John Kerry saying as much and the White House further denying it on a late-night background call. 
The Washington Post‘s Jackson Diehl this morning noted that the plain text of the agreement favors the Iranian interpretation.
Of course the text favors the Iranian interpretation. If, furthermore, it didn't, who believes we would do anything about it? This is smoke and mirrors. Given this pathetic misadministration's track record of deception, outright lies, grotesque incompetence, and a default setting to favor our enemies, who believes anything the White House says? Well, anybody beyond those hopelessly addicted to the Obama Kool-Aid we saw dispensed during Fast and Furious, "Arab Spring," Benghazi, IRS targeting, Solyndra, unemployment figures debacle, NSA scandal, the Obamacare disaster, and on and on. The misadministration is lying, yes, lying. The United States has acquiesced to an Iranian nuclear program which can be weaponized very quickly. As implied above, we are left relying on Iranian good intentions for that not to occur.

This deal is the logical consequence of Obama's foreign policy (see here, here, and here, for example): his apology tour in the early days of the misadministration, his selling out of allies, the shrinking of the US military, and the clear lack of genuine interest in protecting and promoting US interests. It all came out very clearly in the Syrian fiasco, and the "red lines" that appeared and disappeared as needed for Obama's domestic political interests. The Iranians then knew, for certain, that there was no American "red line" on anything, and that they need not fear or respect Obama. He was no strong horse, and more of a frilly skittish pony.

This Geneva accord will draw comparisons with Munich, of course. It is appeasement and a sell-out of our allies and of our long-standing role as guarantor of security in the Middle East. Except that in this case neither Israel, Saudi Arabia nor any Gulf State is ready to play Czechoslovakia, and roll over for Tehran. Israelis and Saudis have options not available to the Czechs in 1938. One, of course, I mentioned before in connection with the misadministration's bungling of Syria,
The irony is that the Saudis will find that their best "friend" in the region is none other than--surprise!--Israel, another US ally feeling very alone and vulnerable now thanks to the madness in the White House. Don't be shocked to hear of an increasing rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, with the US left on the sidelines prattling on about the Palestinians (Note to Obama and other fretting liberals: The Saudis don't give a camel's behind about the Palestinians; they know it's all for show and all a fraud).
Press reports indicate that the Saudis and Israelis are, in fact, in touch and exploring possibilities. In short, therefore, this deal will lead to greater instability and increased rather than lessened chances of a war in the region.

The deal also reminds me of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928. The Pact, signed in Paris, began as a bilateral deal between the USA and France to "outlaw" war, and is named after the American Secretary of State and the French Foreign Minister. The Pact, however, at US insistence, grew in scope, and on August 27, 1928, fifteen nations signed with another forty-seven subsequently joining over the following year. Among the adherents, naturally, were Germany, Japan, and Italy. The Pact had two clauses: the first, outlawed war as a tool of policy; the second, called upon signatories to settle disputes via peaceful means. The Senate ratified the treaty by an overwhelming vote, 87-1 (only John Blaine of Wisconsin, a fascinating and weird character, voted "No.") It is perverse fun to go back and read the press hoopla-la over the Pact, and see how many people actually thought it would outlaw and end war. I could see the pompous John Kerry selling that vial of snake oil just as he will soon be selling the vial he has brought back from Geneva.

The Geneva deal on Iran is bad for Israel, for the region, for peace and for America. So, of course, Obama and Kerry are for it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Venezuela: Bozo as Al Capone, or is it Vice-Versa? [[UPDATE]]

One of the world's biggest clowns-cum-thugs/thugs-cum-clowns is Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro. He has filled that high office since he took over for the dead Hugo Chavez in March 2013, and "won" election on his "own merits" (Cough!) the following month.

In a world full of political clowns and thugs, Maduro belongs to a select club that admits only those adept at both professions. Other recent members of the club, in no particular order, have been Noriega of Panama, Ceausescu of Romania, the Kim family of despots of the DPRK, Burnham of Guyana, Amin of Uganda, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Mobutu of Zaire, Zelaya of Honduras, Gairy of Grenada, Bokassa of the Central African Republic/Empire, and perhaps a tiny handful of others. Maduro has that je ne sais quoi quality that ensures his entry into the ranks of the clown-thugs. Bozo with a truncheon. Capone with big floppy shoes. You get the idea.

I met Maduro twice: once in Washington DC, and once in Lima, Peru. Both times at events of the OAS (Organization of American States). He was then Venezuela's Foreign Minister. I found the former bus driver to be a big  (6'3" - 6' 4") charmless, rude, crude, loud-mouthed slob, who resorted to insults and yelling to try to make his silly points. The Ralph Kramden of the diplomat set. I doubted then, and do so today, that he ever read a book, at least not one that did not require the accompaniment of a crayon. His "E-ticket" to the stratosphere of Venezuelan politics was a slavish and very public slobbering devotion to Hugo Chavez. He is Frank Nitti in a bad suit. Even after the death of his mentor Chavez, he must constantly refer to the late comandante and try to hitch himself ever more closely to the dead man's coat-tails--often in some truly bizarre ways.

Venezuela, one of the world's biggest oil producers and exporters, is in an economically and socially disastrous state. Margaret Thatcher once famously said that socialists eventually run out of other people's money. Venezuela has not yet run out of money, but due to horrid mismanagement, corruption of the highest order, and constant political interference in the workings of the marketplace it might as well have run out. The money, still pouring in although not at the same rate as in the past (we will discuss this below), should prove more than enough to ensure a good future for Venezuela and its people. Instead, it is used to crush liberty and democracy, buy or, better said, rent influence overseas, enrich an inner cabal, and run short-term cons to keep the restive underclass expecting more and more hand-outs. Lots of "free" stuff for regime supporters. Confiscations, jail, exile, and public abuse for opponents.

In an excellent article, Steve Hanke from CATO tells us, that since Chavez's death, Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, "has lost 62.36% of its value on the black market." Venezuela's official inflation rate now exceeds 54% while, "The implied annual inflation rate in Venezuela is actually now in the triple digits, coming in at a whopping 283%." That puts Venezuela in some very bad historical company as the country nears a hyperinflationary rate. Maduro and his backers have decided to make the situation even worse by continuing and even "doubling down" on the policies that got the country into this mess.

Some (pre-fracking) estimates have put Venezuelan oil reserves as the world's largest. Due, however, to corruption, nepotism, and mismanagement, all of which have stifled investment and driven out high quality technicians, Venezuela's nationalized oil production has gone into a slump. The Venezuelan regime, naturally, has resorted to what leftist governments do all over the world when the economic data does not correspond to their fantasy world. Reminiscent of the fake jobs data put out by the Obama misadministration just prior to the 2012 elections, the Venezuelan government lies, overstating oil production by over 420,000 barrels/day. The money from oil sales goes into unaccountable funds, and gets used for a variety of things many of which have nothing to do with reinvestment, and, as noted above, have everything to do with enriching the inner cabal and promoting lunatic economic schemes to keep that cabal in power.

Venezuela faces critical shortages of even basic consumer goods, such as toilet paper. Its retail sector is adopting the look I saw long ago in Guyana as a result of similar economic policies: stores look like they sell shelves. For political reasons, the government insists on maintaining an artificially low bolviar-dollar exchange rate of about 6.2 bolivars to the US dollar. The black market rate, in other words, the real exchange rate, is easily ten times that. The government strictly controls who can buy dollars at the cheap rate, forcing most businesses onto the black market. Combine that with government price controls, out of control government spending, and the fact that Venezuela depends on imported consumer and other manufactured goods, and, well, you don't need a PhD in economics to see what will result: shortages and inflation. Even big multinationals have had to suspend operations in Venezuela because they cannot get dollars to buy critical components.

The response of Maduro to the mess he inherited from Chavez and to the declining economic fortunes of Venezuela? More of the same but on steroids. Municipal elections next month pose a problem for the regime. Although elections in Venezuela are far from free and open, they still do have some ability to show dissatisfaction. The uncharismatic Maduro, himself, almost certainly lost the April elections, but managed to jigger the results just enough to eke out a win. Maduro simply does not have the pull that his predecessor had, and does not inspire the same sort of fanatical loyalty. He needs to show the Chavez base that he can deliver the goods--literally. He, therefore, has taken Chavez's war against free enterprise, liberty and democracy to another level. As you can read here, he has begun ordering troops into popular electronic stores and forcing the owners, often opponents of the regime, to sell their imported goods at cut-rate prices, in other words, at the prices the goods would have if the merchants could buy dollars at the official rate. Maduro has gotten the Chavista dominated legislature to give him economic dictatorial powers. He will govern for the next year by decree,
Maduro, 50, who is staking his rule on preserving Chavez's leftist legacy, says he has already planned the first two laws he will decree - maybe as soon as Wednesday. 
One is intended to limit businesses' profit margins to 15 percent to 30 percent as part of an "economic offensive" against price-gouging. Another would create a new state body to oversee dollar sales by Venezuela's currency control board. 
Diosdado Cabello, the head of the National Assembly and a staunch supporter of the president, said lawmakers had fulfilled an order by the late Chavez when they backed the legislation. 
"He told us to pass all the laws necessary to wring the necks of the speculators and money launderers," Cabello said.
Maduro will decide what can be sold, by whom, and at what price. Again, no PhD or Nobel prize is needed to see how this will end. Businesses will close, shortages will increase, prices will go up, and the people's dependency on the government will grow.

In short, Chavez ran Venezuela with the "long-con." Maduro does not have the skills for that, and came to power as the long-con was coming to an end. He has to go for the "Winner! Winner! Chicken dinner!" short-con approach. Constantly pulling rabbits out of his hat. Accuse the capitalists! Accuse the gringos! Accuse the political opposition! The end result, of course, is the destruction of liberty and the growing chaos, lawlessness, and violence we see in Venezuela.

The left has its way.

UPDATE: I got the text below from a friend who is an expert on and long-time observer of Venezuela. Thought you all might find it interesting to see his reaction to my piece and his perspective.
You are quite right that Maduro doesn't have Chavez's charisma -- and for the Venezuelan poor Chavez really did have charisma. My own observation of Maduro has led me to conclude that -- as with Chavez - the over-the-top posturing is to some extent theatrical and directed mostly at his domestic audience. 
But I think the Bolivarian antipathy toward the U.S. is real --as well as rhetorical. I also think there is an element of real desperation in Maduro's recent speeches. He may not be as gifted a leader but he is smart enough to see that the economy is spinning out of control. On some level I think he and the Chavista holdovers in his cabinet know they are not going to be able to evade responsibility for eviscerating the productive sector forever unless/unless they can somehow plausibly attach blame to sinister forces of the "right" (both foreign and domestic). 
The economy is a mess and a mess to an extent most folks can't quite grasp. The Maduro government, however, as you suggest, seems intent on doubling down on the same policies they have followed over the last few years. If oil dips, things could deteriorate further quickly. If it doesn't, of course, they could play this out for a long time.  

Soon, Soon

I wrote something on Venezuela and lost it. I would have been good designing the Obamacare website.

I will rewrite and post it ASAP.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Day the President was Shot

On November 22, we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Hard to believe that fifty years have passed since that day. For my generation, that date and, of course, September 11, 2001, resonate in the way that December 7, 1941, did to an earlier one.

I attended elementary school in what was a fairly liberal town, Palo Alto, California. Well, better stated, the cultural and educational elite were "liberal," the town itself, before the dot com revolution in which Palo Alto played such a central role, was a middle class town full of war vets, largely apolitical and decidedly old fashion social conservative sorts. Except at election time, politics did not play a big role in most people's lives. The federal government was seen as a benign but remote presence. We generally had no idea who was a Republican and who a Democrat.

Our family had a huge three-level house that dated from the beginning of the twentieth century, and which my immigrant parents had bought in 1957 for the shocking amount of $12,000 (note: according to Zillow, the current value of that house exceeds five million dollars--alas!) Our immediate neighbor, a burly, gruff Marine veteran, severely injured on Iwo Jima, walked with a pronounced limp and harbored an intense hatred for all things Japanese. Across the street, we had a rarity, a family who had fled from Communist China by way of Hong Kong. A little further down the street, my best friend lived. His dad worked as an engineer at an aerospace firm; his English mother, a wonderful and kind lady, had suffered polio as a child, also had a limp, and cheerfully drove a small odd-looking British-made Ford Anglia. I liked going to his house when his British grandfather would visit. He came straight out of central casting complete with an elaborate white handlebar mustache, proper manners, hearty laugh, and an accent that recalled the valiant stoic Brits in those war movies to which I had become addicted. My own English was mediocre, and he, unfortunately, could not understand anything I said. My friend had to play interpreter.

The school, fairly rare for those days, was racially integrated and even had a black principal. One of my teachers was married to Felix Greene, British journalist, Communist "fellow traveler," and cousin of Graham Greene. Felix worked at that time for the San Francisco Chronicle, was a big fan of and apologist for Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and, later, Castro, and had some sort of visiting gig at Stanford. In the 1960 elections, the teachers came out for JFK in almost total unanimity, and made no secret of it. They were enthralled by his youth, status as a "war hero," speeches, accent, James Dean/Steve McQueen coolness, and his emphasis on education. In contrast, Nixon seemed dour and unexciting. Looking back, I can see that many of those teachers we now would call "liberals," or "progressives," or more accurately "socialists." Readers might have some other labels, as well.

As noted above, my English was not very good. With my bizarre accent, the occasionally odd word that I would utter that provoked gales of laughter, and the weird food my mother put in my Wagon Train lunchbox, I was self-conscious about being somewhat of an outsider. I generally did not participate in schoolyard discussions of the elections in which my colleagues repeated what they had heard at the previous night's dinner table. Our family's dinner table discussions, by contrast, tended to revolve around the Spanish Civil War, which I confused with the American Civil War: I couldn't get straight whether Franco had fought for the Union or the Confederacy.

On November 22, 1963, in Miss Sarzin's fifth grade class we had just finished watching a documentary film about the islands of the South Pacific. Miss Sarzin was packing up the 16mm projector when two older kids ran into the room. They dashed up to Miss Sarzin and whispered to her. I remember her gasping, and saying, "No!" She froze with the projector cord in her hand. In walked the vice-principal, another of those tough no-nonsense WWII vets who announced, "Children, the President has been shot." He went to the front of the room, turned on a large radio, and left. We could hear the announcer, growing ever louder as the set warmed up, saying over and over, "The President is dead. The President is dead." Behind me, my friend Charlie tearfully said, "I wish he'd stop that!" We sat stunned. For once, there was not a sound in the room. We were sent home where we watched hour after hour of television coverage of the unfolding story in Dallas. Convinced WWIII would commence presently, my mother frantically and unsuccessfully sought to call her mother in Spain to "warn" her--placing an international call was a major undertaking back then, especially on the eve of WWIII.

JFK's assassination, understandably, left a deep impression on Americans alive at the time. Television, if nothing else, ensured that. One would think, however, that getting assassinated would not guarantee one getting idolized. I remain intrigued and puzzled by the generally high regard Americans continue to have for JFK (here, for example.) He, after all, was an incompetent. Even his war record was marked by incompetence and dereliction of duty. His affair with a known German spy in Washington DC, and his inept handling of his PT boat, which resulted in it getting rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, should have meant a court martial. His father's political connections, however, and JFK's, admittedly, brave leadership of his shipwrecked crew, avoided that fate and got him a medal for "Life Saving," not, however, one for valor as his father wanted--the Navy would not go that far. He had an undistinguished career in Congress and, eventually, became a Chauncey Gardiner President.

He made a hash of the anti-Castro policy inherited from Eisenhower; got outplayed by Khrushchev at his first summit meeting; nearly got us into WWIII, for real, with his bungling of the October Missile Crisis which ensured Castro's survival, again; made a mess of our Vietnam policy, arrogantly having the leader of South Vietnam assassinated; and began a reform of our immigration laws which resulted in the disastrous 1965 Immigration Act that turned our focus from Europe to the Third World. He was regularly consorting with all sorts of questionable women which left him open to blackmail; used powerful pain-killing drugs; and kept the parlous state of his health a secret.

JFK, however, was the first modern "liberal" president. He was the father of the "liberalism" that now runs and ruins our country. His administration saw the melding of Hollywood and Washington, from the dishonest hack hagiographic PT 109 movie to the mixing it up with Sinatra, Lawford, and, of course, Monroe. It was the new liberal royalty. They had the pretty wives dressed by French designers. They had gone to the fancy schools, and earned the fancy degrees. They were true sophisticates who knew the world, and had a vision of a better one and a plan to lead us there. They looked so good, so smart, so educated, so photogenic, so, so . . . well, so unlike the stodgy, grey, and serious Eisenhower, Nixon, Dulles, etc.  The journalists ate it up, protecting him and covering for his lies and deceptions. They, too, wanted to play with and be like the cool kids.

The current disaster we have in the White House is the child of the Kennedy era. He represents the rebirth of the demand for coolness and hipness as the primary qualifications for the most important job in the world. As was discovered by the abandoned Cuban freedom fighters on Playa Giron; by our veterans of Vietnam as well as by the people of South Vietnam; by our people in Benghazi; by our friends and allies around the world; and now by millions of ordinary Americans watching as their health insurance plans collapse and their jobs go away, there is a real world price to be paid for making hipness and coolness the requirements for the presidency. That is the legacy of JFK and the modern day liberals who so admire him.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obama "fixes" Obamacare

I was at the gym when HE came on the tube to announce to us peasants how HE identified with our problems, and, of course, HE never meant "intentionally" to mislead us on the effects of Obamacare. Then HE launched into some rambling, responsibility evading jumble to announce that HE will direct the insurance companies to extend people's insurance policies for another year so that we don't lose them right now--translation: So that we don't lose them prior to the mid-term elections.

Well, well, well. Wasn't the Obamista talking point during the recent GOP struggle against Obamacare that the "Affordable Care Act is SETTLED law"?

I guess law is only SETTLED until the Emperor decides it's not.

The Emperor has declared the Constitution a nuisance and "temporarily" suspended it--all for our own good, of course.

Ah, such joy to be living under the reincarnation of Louis XIV . . . l'état, c'est moi

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Responsibility and Obama

It's tough to write the words "responsibility" and "Obama" in the same sentence.  We have as President a man who never took to heart Mitt Romney's wise observation that "leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses."

Obama is a case study of what in Spanish is known as the "se me cayo" phenomenon. In Spanish, when you drop something, you didn't. It dropped itself from you. For Obama anything that turns out crooked, wrong, or manifestly stoooopid is somebody else's fault. He just read about it in the papers this morning, and, by golly, "there's nobody madder than me about it." We have seen this stunt over and over these past five-plus years.

On "Fast and Furious," an operation begun and launched by Obama's DOJ as a way to sabotage the second amendment and promote international gun control, the President "read" about it and ordered it stopped, and, of course, it was a policy actually launched by George Bush, and, oh by the way, although the facts don't support it, the guns in Mexico come from US gun shows and stores. The idiot media gave him a pass even when it was shown that the guns slipped into Mexico by Obama's team killed hundreds of Mexicans and at least two US federal agents. The media instead focussed its attacks on Republicans who sought to get the documents that showed what the White House knew about this insane operation.

We saw this nonsense play out again in the course of the IRS scandal. The President was "furious" when he found out that his IRS had been targeting conservative groups and donors for "special" attention. Again the media gave Obama a pass and bemoaned how this scandal, labelled "phony" by the President, gave Republicans political ammunition.

We saw this scenario play out again on the Benghazi murders, and on the Syrian "red lines" nonsense. It was all somebody else's fault, a video caused the attack in Benghazi, the world made Obama draw a red line on Syrian chemical weapons. On Syria, of course, the "solution," a clever stunt by Putin who outfoxed Obama every step of the way, that Obama tried to claim for himself.  By this time, even the brain-numb media had a hard time buying the story.

Now we see the granddaddy of domestic political, social and economic disasters. Yes, the horror known as Obamacare. It's cutting a swathe of destruction through the American health system and wreaking havoc on millions of Americans--many of whom fell for Obama's outright lie that, "if like your plan you can keep your plan." They couldn't, of course, because despite the President's typical attempt to blame the insurers, the Republicans, anybody but the man in the mirror for these cancelled policies, he couldn't run from the fact that his "signature" legislative achievement made millions of Americans' insurance policies illegal. Yes, illegal. Fewer people now have medical insurance than before the passage of Obamacare.

Now we see even Democrats waking up from the snake charmer's spell. CNN runs headlines telling us that "Democrats are losing patience" with the President and his prevarication on Obamacare. They have learned their lessons from him and are now seeking to blame somebody, anybody for the disaster.  A couple of simple humble questions. Who voted for this thing? Anybody read it first? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? All these Democrat Congressmen now complaining about the Obamacare beast might want to remember the answers to those questions.

Just another attempt to evade responsibility.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013

When I was a kid in the 1950s most adults still called Veterans Day, Armistice Day. The name was formally changed around 1954, given that for most people by that time WWII or Korea was The War, not the one that was supposed to "end all wars." That said, Armistice Day hung around for quite some time even after it was formally put to rest. Whatever it's named, it's a good holiday, one in which we show our appreciation to and respect for those who have served in our armed forces. I am glad that President Ford defeated efforts to make it become another one of those holidays we commemorate only on Mondays. November 11 means November 11.

By next Veterans Day, we will be into the 100th anniversary of the war that ended with Armistice Day.  As a history buff, of course, I love those sorts of anniversary events. As a dour cynical product of our dour cynical age, however, I fear what direction that commemoration will take. The First World War is a source of endless fascination and commentary by the left. They love that war, as it, in their minds, captures all that is wrong with war, especially the notions of futility and despair. It was, for the leftist historians who have dominated the telling of the event, the last hurrah of monarchies and capitalism, and the midwife of the Soviet Revolution. It is also seen as a war that ended in a way that resolved nothing, and laid the groundwork for the even bigger war to come--and all that was the fault of the Republicans. It, after all, was the Republicans who stymied the great and good Woodrow Wilson and his vision of a New International Order, and turned the USA inward. If only we had joined the League of Nations. If only we had not become so isolationist. If only, well, you've heard it all in school, and don't need me to hash it all over.

That much of this is nonsense and not supported by the historical record, does not matter much. We can go over it all some other time. In sum, the British, the French, and their allies were the good guys. It was a war about something. A Europe dominated by the Kaiser and the Hapsburgs was infinitely worse than one in which Britain and France were the dominant powers. Liberty was at stake, at least in the West; the Russian situation was much more complex, but even then a Russia ruled by a modernizing Tsar or by Kerensky was much preferable to one dominated by the Germans or to the horror that eventually resulted, i.e., the most murderous state in the history of Europe, the USSR.

The Great War is fascinating for many reasons. One that always drew my attention was how a handful of American inventions, a British one, and a German one forever changed war and society. The American inventions of barbed wire, the modern machine gun, and the airplane, the British development of the tank, and the German use of poison gas--the first weapon of mass destruction--altered everything. No army, no war, no calculation of national power would ever be the same. A small force, for example, armed with aircraft, barbed wire, machine guns, gas (or other WMD) could wreak havoc on a much larger force.

With the large scale introduction by the German Army of the American-designed Maxim machine gun, the British and the French militaries faced a challenge not only to their immediate goal, i.e., victory over the Central Powers, but to the very survival of their organizations. Although Franco-British forces outnumbered those of the Germans, simultaneously fighting Russia, the machine gun annulled that advantage. Skillful German deployment of machine gun units and the development of a doctrine for their use, for a time made successful Allied offensive infantry operations virtually impossible. The increased lethality of the Kaiser’s men demolished “business as usual” on the battlefield, and led to a questioning of the competence of the Allied hierarchy. After much hesitation, the removal of inflexible senior officers, and a redesign of the Allied approach to offensive operations--including the introduction of tanks and their own machine gun units--the French and the British managed to continue the war and cancel the initial German advantage. A similar situation developed with the German use of poison gas on the battlefield; the advantage lay with the Germans until the Allies managed to develop effective gas masks, gas use doctrine, and their own gas weapons. The brutality and lethality of war increased exponentially. (I strongly recommend John Ellis, The Social History of the Machine Gun, for a fascinating account of the impact of the machine gun on modern society.)

The First World War also left us another legacy: The veteran as victim.

Most Americans, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and Canadians have tended to view war veterans as heroes, as people who saw and did their duty. Leftist morons in the 1920s and 1930s, including General Smedley Butler and Senator Nye, however, left a lasting picture of the American veteran as victim of what later became known as the military-industrial complex. In all leftist tinged ceremonies "honoring" our veterans we can see this underlying belief; it is as though the left were channeling the old Soviet call for a union of soldier and peasants to overthrow the system. The left wants to enroll the veterans into its burgeoning book of victims. Veterans are depicted as unwitting boobs or just poor people forced to fight for the rich captains of industry. Don't believe me? See the horrendous movie "White House Down" which sums up this belief quite dramatically: in it the Iranians and US soldiers are victims of the US military-industrial complex, which seeks to overthrow a liberal black president for having the courage to call foul on our anti-Iranian policy pushed by the rich white guys.

Sorry. A long-winded diatribe with some ideas in there that need further exploring and refining.

Anyhow, I do not see the veterans as victims, I still hold to the old-fashioned view. They served and it was not for nothing. It was for something. A something that is now being undermined by the leftist loons who rule us.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Jakarta Drive By

I spent three tumultuous years in Indonesia, 2003-06. It was a strange and wonderful time and country. Indonesia was, in theory, Muslim, the world's largest Muslim country, to be precise. It, however, was a complex amalgam of many faiths and beliefs which knocked the hard edges off of Islam, and produced a relatively tolerant and laid-back country. Islam was there, but so was Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, a variety of animist religions, a cult built around a sea goddess, and lots of worship of Britney Spears and other western pop stars. Senior levels of Indonesian society also had a genuine love for American country music, and karaoke bars and national television were full of it. It was something to see serious Indonesian politicians, business tycoons, and military donning cowboy hats and breaking out into "Red River Valley."

The nation's complex ethnic make-up usually worked, but had produced huge bloody explosions, such as the 1960s government-sponsored pogrom aimed at the Chinese community. It resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. A subsurface tension continued to exist between Chinese-Indonesians and "regular" Indonesians, originally "caused" by the ostensible belief that the Chinese were communist sell-outs to Red China, and which, over the years, mutated into the charge that the Chinese had become too successful. Chinese names had been banned, and most Chinese adopted Indonesian surnames often with a western first name. The Chinese were, in fact, the single most successful group in the country, and many prominent and world-class wealthy businessmen were ethnic Chinese. These Chinese-Indonesians put a very high premium on education, a large proportion spoke good English, had been educated abroad, and maintained links to the outside world "just in case." Few had become Muslim and generally were Christian or Buddhist, and often both or nothing discernible. They, of course, reminded me of Jews I had met around the world: never quite certain that they could and would manage to live out their lives peacefully in their home country.

This mix, as noted, created a distinctly un-Islamic culture. Most Indonesians adhered to Islam in the same way Spaniards or Filipinos did to Catholicism. In other words, religious identity was not foremost in the average person's mind in the course of the day. Indonesia's military was decidedly unreligious, and highly suspicious of radical Islam. Even during major Muslim holidays, such as Ramadan, one hardly noticed in the capital. That, unfortunately, had begun to change in the 1990s and 2000s. The Saudis and their oil money sponsored madrassas, mosques, hajj excursions, etc., in a bid to make Indonesia into a "real" Muslim country. The country received "missionaries" from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries who sought to show Indonesians the errors of their overly tolerant ways. Islamic political parties had begun to emerge, drawing voters with anti-foreign, anti-corruption, and pro-poor platforms, noting that Indonesia, a member of OPEC, had high levels of poverty and income inequality.

Terrorism had become a major problem in Indonesia by the time I arrived. The radical fringe was no longer content to restrict itself to proselytism. Jemaah Islamiyah (many spellings) was the major terrorist organization. It had links with sister groups in Malaysia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan and elsewhere and formed part of the global Al Qaeda network. They conducted several horrific bombings in Indonesia, including of hotels and bars in Bali, the Marriott in Jakarta, and a bloody attack on the Australian embassy. They murdered Christians, including school children, and burned churches. We worked closely with the Aussies--terrific at this sort of thing--and the Indonesian government against JI and achieved some notable successes. That, of course, put senior members of the US and Australian embassies in JI's crosshairs. JI, in fact, almost did kill the superb Australian Ambassador; the very well-built Aussie embassy saved him from being skewered by a metal fence post that flew into his bullet-proof office window following a suicide vehicle blast.

While not allowed to carry a weapon, as I had done in other posts, I had lots of security. When the Ambassador fell ill and had to leave the country for a long period of time, I inherited his even more elaborate security apparatus. Lead car, follow car, fully armored car, bodyguards, you get the picture. When my wife and I went to the movies--unbelievably modern cinemas in Jakarta--a security person would buy the tickets and seats all around us would be kept clear of other patrons. The guards would block the row in which we sat. Restaurants, same deal. I figured we drew much more attention by this sort of thing. I always wanted to get into a cab and show up somewhere, certain nobody would know who I was, and just blend in with the huge flock of other foreigners in Jakarta. No, that was not to be. On occasion, however, I would slip my guards and flee for a little freedom.

We lived in one of the few old residential neighborhoods left in the city, and occupied a beautiful US government-owned house that in the 1930s had belonged to the General Motors representative in Indonesia. We had a lovely park across the street, and around us several blocks of old Dutch-era houses which had not yet fallen to developers' insatiable desire to put up huge skyscrapers and shopping malls. At night, the neighborhood, uncharacteristic for Jakarta, was quite dark. Lots of big trees, high walls, and uneven narrow sidewalks. It was quiet, and I enjoyed walking at night with my beloved Rottweiler, Kodiak, at my side, and a good Honduran cigar clenched between my teeth. The problem was the bodyguards. They did not like going out in the neighborhood precisely because it was dark, had lots of trees, high walls, and uneven narrow sidewalks. It was, of course, perfect ambush country. When I got out for a walk, I had a guard in front, one behind, another keeping pace across the street, and sometimes a car following along. This was not conducive to thinking and clearing of the head. As noted, I would at times find a way to slip out of the house, alone but for dog and cigar.

One night, I pulled a Houdini-like escape into the dark. I felt free, liberated, able to confront the night on my own. It must have been around 11 pm or so, and Kodiak and I had been walking for about 30 minutes. I noticed a car that passed us going in the opposite direction, now making a U-turn behind us and heading back our way from behind. It was driving very slowly, not a usual thing in Jakarta at night. As I said, I had no weapon, and suddenly realized I had not brought my cellphone. I can be pretty stupid. With a dog, and a cigar for protection, MacGyver-like scenarios ran through my head. Maybe I could flick the cigar into their faces while Kodiak jumped them, and I . . . no, no, I would put the cigar in the gas tank . . . it was too late. The car had come even with us, moving at our speed. We stopped. The car stopped. The front passenger window slid down. I swear to this day that I saw the guy in the front seat shove a sawed-off shotgun through the now open window. I thought, this is how it ends. There will be an investigation; I will be declared, literally, terminally idiotic and deserving of my fate.

The "shotgun" was aimed point-blank at my chest.

"Mister, look! Just like yours!"

Kodiak began to growl. Despite the gloom I could see the "shotgun" squirm.

It was a beautiful black and tan Rottweiler puppy.

The man wanted me to admire his dog.

Exhausted by the Fraud

I haven't blogged in several days as the six regular readers of this little exercise in narcissism can attest. Quite aside from life intruding on what I would rather be doing, I have been suffering a form of writer's block, no, worse, an overwhelming reluctance to look, again, at what this horrid presidential misadministraiton is doing to my country. Everywhere I look, I see the people, starting with the president, in charge of government doing things to undermine the country they ostensibly serve. The damage being done is great, and I fear it will be long-lasting if not permanent. I am not just talking about a policy here or there. Our leaders, better said, rulers, have embarked on a radical transformation of the nation, and rely for support on a vociferous band composed of mediocre academics, "journalists," low-to-no-information voters, non-taxpayers, dole recipients, and, of course, illegal aliens and their activists. This band of brothers and sisters supporting this misadministration aids and abets the fraud at every possible opportunity.

Yes, fraud. We see fraud throughout the electoral process, and it is growing. Not only are non-citizens voting, but they are being facilitated in that by being issued valid state ids--right here in California, for example--which makes moot the whole argument about voter id being needed. The fraud, however, is not limited to the mechanics of the electoral process. We see massive fraud in the running of public assistance programs; in the way the Obamacare disaster was sold; in how the misadministration handled the Benghazi and the "Fast and Furious" disasters; in how the IRS operates against political opponents of the regime; the government's manipulation of job and other economic data; in the steady stream of lies about and rewrites of recent events be they in the realm of domestic or foreign affairs. And on and on and on. The next big fraud being, of course, a push to "reform" immigration so that we can import even more poverty and put even more people on the dole and enter them into the rolls of Democratic voters.

In foreign affairs, to just cite one little example, we now see our cadaverous Secretary of State, a man with a long history of fraud, himself, off to Geneva to, no sense beating about the bush, bless the Iranian nuclear program. I would not be at all surprised if the final act of the "negotiations" in Geneva is not moved to a railway car in Compiègne so that Kerry can formally surrender to the Ayatollahs. The misadminsitration after years of telling us that it would not stand for an Iranian bomb, is now selling out Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, and, more important, our own vital interests and attracting little in the way of critical media attention. The surrenders in Iraq and Syria served as samplers; now comes the big box of chocolates.

I just can't say anything more right now. Give me a couple of days and I will write some pompous piece on what needs to be done.

Off to play with my dog. He is not pompous or a fraud. No lies. Just pure joy in being alive.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The US Treasury as the Birthright of All Mankind

To paraphrase Ricky Gervais, "I was 'aving a laugh" reading about a Massachusetts politician complaining that EBT money is going overseas. When a liberal progressive Massachusetts Democrat (is there any other kind?) starts complaining about welfare recipients in his state sending taxpayer money to relatives overseas, you know the situation must be horrendous. Anyhow, read the article it describes various ways in our high-tech world used by welfare recipients to funnel money to foreign relatives.

Don't forget that it was in this bluest of blue of blue states, that the two Chechen Boston Marathon bombers and their families received all sorts of public assistance. As I wrote on April 24, 2013,
Our tolerant, liberal, and inclusive system was providing these clowns (their names, I will never write) with welfare. I guess that answers one of my early questions about how these creeps supported themselves. The older one, of course, had his idiot convert wife working 80 hours a week while he sat home and collected his, yep, welfare checks. The younger murderer got his citizenship, a scholarship and welfare. Yes, just as in the olden times when you gave your executioner a gold coin to encourage him to make a swift and painless job of the beheading, it seems we pay our executioners. Even more interesting is that these cretins' scumbag parents were also collecting, even though they did not live in the USA.
As far as I know, there has been no investigation into how the public assistance system aided and abetted the Boston bombings. I am glad to see that somebody is finally getting a bit upset by how loosely we throw about our dole money.

US public assistance money going to foreign recipients is, however, not a new development. As a young consular officer in Guyana in the late 1970s, I had my own encounter with this phenomenon. One hot, muggy day (are there any other kind in Guyana?) while on the visa counter, I received an application for a tourist visa from a very nice elderly lady. She had prior visas, and normally we would not have interviewed somebody like her, and just issued the visa, but I was struck by the reason she gave for her trip to New York. According to her application and to her accompanying adult daughter, she needed to go there for post surgery care.

Seeing that the applicant had no significant resources, I asked how this medical care was to be funded. The daughter smiled and pulled out a thick wad of papers, mostly letters and receipts. She said, "The City of New York wants her to come for the appointment." She did not lie. She handed me a letter from  the NYC Department of Social Services addressed to her mother at her mother's Guyana address, reminding the elderly lady that she needed to return to NY for an appointment so that the doctors' could evaluate whether the surgery they had performed on her--at public expense--had worked. I asked the daughter, "Where does your mother live?" The answer, "In Guyana." Young and naive, I could not understand, "Why is the City of New York paying for her surgery and post-op care?" The daughter seemed taken aback by the stupidity of my question, "They send her money every month." She gave me receipts showing that for several years the mother had been receiving public assistance checks sent to her Guyana address; she would send the checks back to NY for deposit in a bank there. Mom, apparently, on a trip years ago had applied for and gotten public assistance from the City, eventually returned to Guyana, and continued to receive the funds. Livid, I turned down the visa application, made copies of all the documents, and wrote an angry letter to the relevant NYC agencies.

The next day, before I had posted my indignant letter to NY alerting them to this fraud--this was before internet--I got calls from the staff of a well-known NYC Congressman and another from some drone in the NYC welfare bureaucracy. Both callers were very upset with my refusal to issue the visa, accusing me of racism, being anti-poor, etc., and let me know that my superiors at State would be notified about my attitude. I kept blurting out, "But . . . she's living in Guyana and getting American taxpayer assistance . . ." as though that would trigger some logical thought sequence in my favor. All to no avail. I was the reincarnation of Eichmann. This went on for weeks, letters, calls, new visits from the mother and daughter, pleas from her doctor in NY, etc. The State visa wonks contacted me, took my story, and truth be told, never tried to change my decision, supporting my refusal to issue on the grounds of what then was called 212 (A) (15), likely to become a public charge.

Some years later I was living in New York and had a friend who worked for the City. I told him my tale, and he was not surprised. It was apparently a common occurrence.

Your tax dollars at work. Just wait until we have Obamacare. The folks in (place foreign country name here) will be "'aving a laugh" on us all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lying in State

On a previous occasion, I have written of my mixed views re political commentator, ex-presidential candidate, and celebrity pundit Pat Buchanan. I greatly admire his writing style, pugnaciousness, and disregard for political correctness and fashions--I much doubt that he ever will get  Bethell's "Strange New Respect" Award. He, however, has more than the whiff of the racist and anti-semite about him, and that turns me away from him. That said, when he's on point, there is nobody who states it more clearly. He has written an interesting--flawed, but interesting--take-no-prisoners column which is well-worth reading. Much like a columnist I do admire, Frederick Douglas, he has a brutal way of using words that leaves no doubt where he stands.

Posted November 1, in "Human Events", and titled--provocatively--"THE FIRST HUSTLER RUNS THE BIG CON," his article is a raw, powerful, merciless take-down of Obama and his woeful misadministration,
“Nothing is lost save honor.” 
So said Jim Fisk after he and Jay Gould survived yet another scrape in their corrupt and storied careers in the Gilded Age. 
Fisk’s dismissal of honor came to mind while watching Barack Obama in Boston smugly explain how his vow — “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it!” — was now inoperative. 
All along, it had been a bait-and-switch by the first hustler. 
In Boston, Obama could no longer evade the truth. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who had purchased health insurance in the private market were getting notices their plans were being canceled. 
That this revelation had blown a hole in his credibility did not seem to trouble Obama. Indeed, the president appeared impatient with the complaints. These were “substandard” plans anyhow, he said, the lousy offerings of “bad-apple insurers.” 
“So if you’re getting one of those letters (canceling your insurance plan), just shop around in the new marketplace. … You’re going to get a better deal.” 
Behind the arrogance is the realty: Obama has the veto power. No alteration of Obamacare, except for changes he approves, can be made before the winter of 2017. And by then, Obamacare will be so deeply embedded in law and practice it will be beyond repeal. 
We won, you lost, was written across Obama’s face.
Writing about the misadministration's lies about the increasingly and obviously disastrous Obamacare bungle, Buchanan goes on to note that,
He conned the people into believing something he knew to be false — that all Americans would be allowed to keep the health care plans that they had and liked. 
This assurance, repeated again and again, helped disarm the opposition. Americans who liked their doctors and insurance plans and were repeatedly told they could keep both were not only relieved; they became more receptive to the idea of helping the less fortunate. 
Hard to disagree with Buchanan, thus far. He then, however, makes what I consider a mistake that cheapens his argument and, in fact, without need makes the colossal and unique nature of Obama's lie, less so on both counts,
Obama’s assurances of keeping your insurance plan if you like it now enters presidential history alongside George H.W. Bush’s “Read my lips! No new taxes,” Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and George W. Bush’s tales of yellow cake in Niger and hidden arsenals of WMDs.
The examples he uses are nowhere in the league with the lie foisted on the American people by Obama.  G.H.W. Bush's "No new taxes!" was a political pledge which he failed to keep when he got outmaneuvered by the Democrats and pushed into a bad deal by GOP stalwarts such as Bob Dole. He got outplayed, and forced into something which he didn't want but came to own and paid for it in the 1992 elections. Clinton's statement was, of course, a lie, but it is the cheap lie of a philandering husband who doesn't want his wife, in this case the fearsome Hillary, to beat the crap out of him. It did not cost people's jobs, income, or health insurance, it did not threaten a giant industry, and promise to blow a hole in the budget for years to come. Buchanan is particularly unfair, and this shows his strange bias in favor of corrupt Arab regimes, in grouping George W. Bush in this assortment. When it came to Iraq and nuclear WMDs, the second Bush was reporting and acting on what his intel services--as well as the intel services of nearly the whole world--were telling him. He was not lying. There is no purpose in making Obama's behavior seem one of a piece with a long line of presidential "liars." Presidents, politicians, ordinary mortals can be wrong without being liars. I am sure even the sharp mind of Buchanan has failed him on occasion without making him a liar.

In the Obamacare roll-out we have something almost unique. The evidence gets stronger almost daily that Obama and his minions knew that what they were saying about Obamacare was not true. They knew that many people, millions, in fact, would not be able to keep their existing plans and doctors, but went ahead a stated that they would, and blasted anybody who suggested otherwise.

Lying is an integral part of this misadministration's governing ruling style. We have rulers who do not hesitate to lie, and to lie big. We see it, for example, in their handling of "Fast and Furious," and the accompanying lie that the guns in Mexico come from American gun shows and stores; in the cover-up of the IRS' targeting of  conservative political groups and donors; the lies about our policy toward Syria; and, of course, in the grotesque mendacity present in the Obama misadministration's handling of the Benghazi murders. We have seen it again in the promotion of Obamacare, perhaps the most ill-conceived and executed big government program in American history.

William James, one of my favorite philosophers, stated in his brilliant essay, "The Will to Believe" (Note: Everybody should read it!) that, "In all important transactions of life we have to take a leap in the dark." We don't know the future, in fact, we often don't know the present or the past. We rarely can be certain that a politician is lying to us or just wrong. In Obama's case, however, there is no doubt. He is a liar.